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When connecting multiple locations together, the more locations you connect the larger and more complicated your network gets, or the less efficient it becomes. For example with only 2 branch offices in New York and Los Angeles, an interconnection is very simple, one direct connection from point A to point B. As you start to add locations, and thus connection points, things start to get more complicated.

Following our example of a 4 location real estate company. There are 3 basic methods for connecting these 4 offices together, called a ring, star, and mesh topology.

The ring is basically a connection that "rings" the various locations together.

The star is called that because you create a central point in the network and connect every other location to it.

The mesh is so termed because you connect every network point directly to every other network point, creating a topology that looks like a mesh.

Looking at the diagrams of the different topologies, you will see numbers by the connections needed to sustain each type of connection method. The ring requires 4 point to point connections. Data passing to opposite points on the ring will have to go through an interim point to meet its destination. The star requires 3 connections, with the central point being New York in this case. All traffic, even the data that does not involve New York, must pass through New York before arriving at its destination. The mesh requires 6 maintained connections. While data will travel point to point directly, this is at a cost of maintaining 2 additional connections. This burden further increases, the more points you connect

All of the connections mentioned so far are dedicated point-to-point connections. These are fairly expensive to maintain since they are private lines that are specifically provisioned per request. These lines would serve no other purpose but to transmit voice and data from end to end. The cost of the lines is dependent on distance, the longer the distances you connect the more expensive the lines become.

Contrast this with a VPN. With a VPN you do not need to connect your locations directly. Whether they are cross-country or around the world, you just need to connect each one to the internet. You can use a less expensive connection such as DSL or cable modem if you do not want the reliability of an industrial grade connection. Your connection serves as both a network connection and an internet connection. There is a lesser issue of distance because the distance is between your location and the local internet service provider, not between your locations. The connection is clean and efficient because you do not have redundant information handling or extra routing as each piece of information goes directly to its destination.

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